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After a quarter of an hour, which seemed like a day, the grim-faced porter appeared again at a doorway at the other end of the room, and, without deigning to speak, beckoned him forward. He entered a room even larger than the first, and very poorly lighted. The walls too were whitewashed; but there was no furniture. Only in a corner near the door did Julien see, as he passed, a white wooden bed, two straw chairs, and a small armchair made of pine boards without a cushion. At the other end of the room, near a small window with yellowed panes of glass, lined with flower vases, he saw a man seated before a table, and covered with a dilapidated cassock; he looked angry, and took one after the other a crowd of small squares of paper which he arranged on his table, after having written a few words on them. He did not notice Julian’s presence. The latter was standing motionless in the middle of the room, where the porter had left him, who had gone out and closed the door.

It was night; as soon as they were seated, Julien, making use of his old privilege, dared to put his lips to the arm of his pretty neighbour, and take her hand. He thought of the boldness with which Fouqué had dealt with his mistresses, and not of Mme. de Renal; the word “well-born” still weighed on his heart. His hand was shaken, which gave him no pleasure. Far from being proud, or at least grateful for the sentiment which Mme. de Rênal betrayed that evening by too obvious signs, the beauty, the elegance, the freshness found him almost insensible. The purity of the soul, the absence of any hateful emotion, doubtless prolongs the duration of youth. It is the physiognomy that ages first in most beautiful women.

It is true that this arrangement has been criticised by the good people of the place. Once, it was a Sunday day, four years ago, M. de Rênal, returning from church in his mayor’s suit, saw old Sorel, surrounded by his three sons, smiling at him from afar. This smile brought a fatal day to the soul of M. le maire; he has thought ever since that he could have obtained the exchange more cheaply.